Former Praise host Sonya Hamm dies


Posted March 23, 2009 on Rodney Ho’s AJC Radio & TV Talk blog

Sonya Hamm, former morning host at Praise 97.5(now at 102.5), passed away Wednesday from colon and abdomen cancer, her husband of 24 years Gary Hamm told me Thursday afternoon.

“She had a natural connection with people,” said Praise program director Derek Harper. “You don’t have a lot of jocks like her anymore. People felt her reach through the radio to embrace them.”

Hamm, a Durham native and Atlanta resident, spent most of her radio career in that Raleigh/Durham area at a gospel station. She moved to Atlanta in 2004 to be the new morning host at Praise. In 2007, when Praise owners decided to launch the syndicated morning show starring Yolanda Adams, Hamm was moved to mid days.

Last August, Praise let her go for budgetary reasons. Hamm, her husband said, was in the midst of starting her own radio Web site and he had helped build a studio at their home.

Gary Hamm said she started going downhill about a month ago but was grateful he got to say goodbye.

Her former colleagues at Praise said they knew she was sick (she had taken a medical leave at one point during her tenure at Praise), but had no idea she was in such a bad state.

“She loved movies,” said Praise promotions manager Cie Cie Wilson McGhee. “She was an extra in a couple of Tyler Perry movies.” She was also into soul food. Wilson McGee recalled two favorites: the Original Big Daddys Smokehouse BBQ Grill in Decatur and This is It BBQ in East Point. For kicks, they nicknamed each other “Muffin.”

“We used to say that in the hallways,” Wilson McGhee said. “People are affectionate at the station. We are always hugging and stuff.”

Atlanta gospel singer Dottie Peoples said she was shocked by Hamm’s passing. “A fallen radio angel has gone,” she said.

When Hamm was in Raleigh, “she used to interview me on her morning show.” Peoples said. “I used to fuss at her because it was so early in the morning. But you couldn’t tell her no.” She said she used to tease Hamm by asking, “Where’s the breakfast and grits?”

When Hamm moved to Atlanta, Peoples would listen to her on the radio and call in. Hamm would teasingly turn the tables on Peoples and ask, “Are the grits ready?” Peoples’ response? “I ain’t going to cook no breakfast!”

Greg Hamm said she loved to travel and take cruises. She was also a fan of the beach. The couple would regularly go to the Outer Banks in N.C. and Myrtle Beach, S.C. when they lived in North Carolina and more recently Tybee Island in Georgia.

She was a member of the World Changers Church International under Dr. Creflo A. Dollar. Her funeral services are going to be Tuesday (March 31) at Christian Faith Center in Creedmoor, N.C. in conjunction with Burthey Funeral Services in Durham, N.C. Viewing is at noon, services at 1 p.m., followed by burial, Greg Hamm said.

You can place your condolences at her Web site

-On a much more frivolous note, do you like CBS’s summer reality show “Big Brother”? I don’t. But if you want to be on the show, there’s an open casting at Rock Bottom Brewery in Buckhead at 3242 Peachtree Road Saturday from noon to 6. There is no specific skill set needed for this show, just a wily personality that pops on camera and a willingness to be on TV 24/7 for weeks on end. Also check to get an application. The show would air this summer and you might be trapped in that house for weeks on end. Fortunately, there are plenty of unemployed or under-employed people out there to fill the spots.

-The numbers for NBC’s failed reality show “The Chopping Block” keep getting scarier. The third episode, in which Atlantans Panya Rice and Michael Holmes were eliminated, attracted just 2.6 million viewers. The opening episode drew 3.8 million two weeks ago. The typical NBC show attracts at least 7 million viewers during primetime. These numbers are even worse  than a typcal “Top Chef” episode on Bravo, where episodes get repeated umpteenth times per week. I’m surprised NBC hasn’t already ditched this loser. (UPDATE: The show was indeed axed on Thursday.)

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